Lupin the Third: The Castle of Cagliostro [Blu-ray]
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Lupin the Third: Castle of Cagliostro, the feature film debut of Academy Award-winning anime creator Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away, Howl's Moving Castle, Kiki's Delivery Service), makes its gallant return to home video with more special features and a better transfer than ever before! In the twilight of his career, master thief Lupin the Third's latest and greatest caper has hit a snag. What should've been bags of cash from a national casino turns out to be expert counterfeits! Together with his partner-in-crime Jigen, Lupin heads to the remote European nation of Cagliostro to exact revenge. Not everything goes as planned; the two encounter Clarisse, a royal damsel in distress being forced to marry the sinister Count Cagliostro against her will. Saving her won't be easy, however, as Lupin and Jigen -- together with Lupin's unpredictable ex-girlfriend Fujiko and the swordsman Goemon -- must fight their way through a trap-filled castle, a deadly dungeon, and an army of professional assassins! Can Lupin rescue the girl, evade the cuffs of his long-time nemesis Inspector Zenigata, and uncover the secret treasures of The Castle of Cagliostro?
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IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: I was actively involved in the development of this DVD/BD. BUT I was not paid to write this review, and this listing really needs an informative review, and my love for the movie is very real! The feature film itself is easily worth five stars, in any case.
ABOUT THE MOVIE: This is the second Lupin the Third anime film, and the first anime feature directed by Hayao Miyazaki, originally released in Japan mid-December 1979. It's a wonderful film filled with action and adventure, some mystery, and even a hint of romance. The story is one of master thief Lupin and his partner-in-crime making off with wads of cash in their latest heist, all of which, they are surprised to learn, are counterfeit. Lupin heads for the source of these fabled, near-perfect "Gothic bills": the tiny, picture-perfect European principality Cagliostro. There, Lupin meets a young lady, Clarisse, under duress to marry the wicked Count Cagliostro. With an elaborate plan and the help of his friends, Lupin infiltrates the trap-filled Cagliostro Castle to rescue the damsel, and maybe even take a little something home for himself in the process.
THE VIDEO: First off, the DVD easily has a better picture quality than any preceding US release. It features full, anamorphic widescreen with no overscan border. The colors are no longer washed out but instead reflect those found in high-definition releases. The opening credits, which were butchered into a still-frame sequence in the previous "Special Edition" release, are now completely uncensored. There are no overlays or any alterations to the source video here.
(*NEW*) The Blu-ray is basically a major step up from the DVD. The picture is cleaner and bolder, and the audio is improved. Personally, I prefer the colors on the DVD version over the Blu-ray version, but I also spent hours upon hours looking at and re-watching this movie. While I kind of prefer some things about how the DVD looks, the Blu-ray also looks great in motion.
THE AUDIO: Most notable about this DVD and BD is that there are multiple English audio and subtitling options. If you want Spanish or French audio or subtitles, you will have to revisit the Manga Special Edition. However, found on this release are:
- The Streamline Pictures dub from 1992, featuring Bob Bergen as Lupin, a.k.a. "the Wolf" (monaural)
- The Manga Entertainment/Animaze... Inc. dub from 2000, featuring David Hayter as Lupin the Third (5.1 stereo on DVD) *This track was completely restored and remixed for the DVD from the original master by the original mixer, Les E. Claypool III. So it's a lossless 2.0 track on the Blu-ray. The DVD's 5.1 is actually nowhere near as good and admittedly kind of a fakey surround mix. :(
- An optional, edited-down, "family-friendly" version of the Manga Entertainment dub, with only a few mild curse words remaining. This was newly created to bring the dub more in line with the tone of both the original Japanese script and Disney's Studio Ghibli releases, which can (mostly) be enjoyed with the whole family. The movie itself remains uncut even when viewed this way. This audio track is 2.0 stereo. The Blu-ray version of this is revised and improved from the DVD version, using the newer sound elements from the remastered, uncut version..
- Original 1979 Japanese audio (Monaural). The Blu-ray has an additional 5.1 surround track in Japanese as well.
- Audio commentary by me, some dork who likes the movie. Listen only if inclined. (Mono.)
THE SUBTITLES: There are also multiple subtitle tracks available:
- Brand-new translation of the Japanese (complete with translation notes in the menu)
- Recreation of the ca. 1980 theatrical English subtitles, as screened in indie theaters and conventions nationwide during the 1980s and onward.
- The Streamline Pictures dub script (on the DVD version only)
- Signs- and Songs-only subtitles for both English dubs (these are condensed into one single track on the Blu-ray).
- Subtitles for the Deaf & Hard-of-Hearing (based on the literal script translation; found on the Blu-ray version only)
THE SPECIAL FEATURES: Regarding the DVD, you can find both of the original theatrical trailers in full widescreen glory, and a collection of the various openings and endings from previous home video releases. Special features missing from this release that were on the Manga Entertainment Special Edition include the Yasuo Ohtsuka interview, storyboards viewing mode, and a brief image gallery. While I personally think the improvements in picture and audio options here easily outweigh the few missing features, please refer to the disclaimer above. :)
(*Update*) A few additional BD-only special features made the cut:
- More alternate versions of the opening credits sequence
- Storyboard viewing mode (with "baked-in" picture-in-picture)
- Interviews with Yasuo Ohtsuka (animation director), Kazuhide Tomonaga (key animator), and Monkey Punch (creator/author of the Lupin III comics). These are new to the English-speaking market; they previously came out on a French Blu-ray set years ago.
- Lengthy interviews with voice artists David Hayter (Lupin voice, 2000 dub) and Bob Bergen (Lupin voice, 1992 dub).
- Film introduction by David Hayter
- Slideshow art gallery with character/mechanical models, promotional art/posters, and Miyazaki's original imageboards/concept art.
- These are on the DVD also, but the two versions of the original theatrical trailer are now presented in HD on the Blu-ray.
(*Updated*) ABOUT THE PACKAGING: The DVD comes in a clear keepcase with a cardboard slipcover, but I swapped my keepcase out for a different one. I felt the stock one was a bit "soft", but your mileage may vary. My replacement is harder to fit back into the slipcover. The stock one I believe has a different locking mechanism. As you can see, there is a cardboard slipcover on this DVD that looks completely different from any other release of the film. The artwork sheet itself is reversible, and the inside art matches the slipcover (the outside art looks like the cover here on Amazon, except the final product is simply the "Collector's Edition," not the "35th Anniversary Edition"). The disc itself looks like the Count's red/golden goat ring.
The Blu-ray is very similarly packaged, but the disc features Clarisse's blue ring emblem (reversed from the DVD of course), and the inside cover sleeve is a poster spread instead of a duplicate of the cardboard slipcover art.
Lupin III is a master thief. With his cohorts Jigen and Goemon and the unwitting help from his ex-girlfriend Fujiko as well as Lupin's self-proclaimed nemesis, Inspector Zenigata, they free a beutiful Princess from her evil captor who is intent on marrying the young princess to steal the family fortune.
Like all of Miyazaki's other works, this film has gorgeous animation that compliments a very intricate and heartful story.
Fans of the original Lupin III comic by Monkey Punch may not appreciate it as much since the characters act a little 'nicer' than the fans may prefer, but Miyazaki's talent lies in weaving a good story together with beautiful animation, and it is clearly evidenced here.
This film stands not just as a good example of whats good about Japanese animation, but as a good movie in general... Interesting characters, clever plot twists, amazing action, and a good dose of heart. I still stand surprised that some hollywood shmuck hasn't bought the rights to it and mangled it into the lame "blockbuster" live-action formula that America is currently plagued with. But I digress...
I can think of no better introduction to anime than Hayao Miyazaki. Castle of Cagliostro is definitely one of his better works, and you will find yourself amazed at how 'real' this hand-drawn animation feels compared to the generic pocket-monster-giant-robot-half-naked-girls-with-guns-otaku-fanboy-teenager-boobshow stuff... in fact I'd say that's the only thing this film is missing. :) ... again, I digress...
This work is a cut above and deserves a higher respect, as it's done by a man who clearly has more respect for the art.
If you are new to anime, well, so am I. My friend put this on for me once and I wondered where it had been all my life. If you love adventure films, like Indiana Jones, and you grew up loving Duck Tales and stuff like that, prepare to be dazzled. It is also just very charming in a distinctly Japanese sort of way. The animation is astounding, and the background paintings are lavish and really give the whole thing a level of artistry that is unmatched even in this post-Pixar world. I love cars, and obviously the people who made this do too. You will want a Fiat 500 after watching this.
I own three blu-rays and this is one of them! The other two are Unforgiven and the third season of Star Trek Next Generation. Just in case you were wondering.